Release Date: Feb 19, 2008
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The news is that Mark Eitzel and Vudi have resurrected American Music Club for the first time since 2004's Love Songs for Patriots (which was in turn the group's first album in a decade), but they haven't gone terribly far out of their way to do it -- while pedal steel player Bruce Kaplan was absent from the Love Songs lineup, on 2008's The Golden Age, Eitzel and Vudi are the only holdovers from the band's original membership, with debuting bassist Sean Hoffman and percussionist Steve Didelot completing this new, leaner edition of AMC. While Love Songs attempted to evoke the grand, noisy soundscapes of albums like Everclear and Mercury, The Golden Age harks back to the more arid atmospherics of California and United Kingdom, and it does so quite well. Anyone hoping for a big dose of Vudi's fractured guitar heroics will go wanting as he aims for a more subdued tone on most tracks, saving his more outré effects for the codas of "On My Way" and "The Windows on the World.
American Music Club nearly missed their golden era. The soft-spoken San Francisco five-piece called it quits in 1994 but reformed 10 years later, just in time to make prudent comments on the state of America. The Golden Age, the band’s ninth release, is definitely a bit mellower in tone and subject matter than Love Songs For Patriots, but it’s no less passionate.
There's a moment in "One Step Ahead," about two minutes into what seems a fairly unthreatening, literate pop song, when things take a dramatic turn. The close harmonies slip a half-step closer and turn to discord, the drums rear up in cymbal-clashing rebellion and the guitar, played by longtime AMC'er Vudi (Mark Pankler), splinters into monstrous waves of feedback. That, in a nutshell, is what's interesting about this ninth installment (and second since a long break) by Mark Eitzel's American Music Club.